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Working Through COVID-19 Together


To Build an Agile Team, Commit to Organizational Stability

Elaine Pulakos & Robert B Kaiser, Harvard Business Review, April 7, 2020

Practitioners are often told that to cope with sudden and dramatic change, the companies they work for need to be agile and resilient. The current coronavirus pandemic has proven this to be true but new research suggests that to achieve legitimate agility and resilience, companies must first have to commit themselves to stability. Organisational stability provides employees with a sense of confidence, security, and optimism during times of disruption. Harvard Business Review have devised seven evidence-based practices that leaders can use to build a stable foundation during the current COVID-19 crisis.

To read more go to HBR now

Covid-19 Creates a Moment of Truth for Corporate Culture

Marc Berman & Tracy Thurkow, Bain & Company, April 7, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has created a moment for leaders to ask themselves, are our choices and actions right now reflecting our culture, and purpose and values that define us? An organisation’s culture determines what it says and does. Culture is guided by purpose and values and for many companies, this will be put to the test by a crisis such as COVID-19. Bain & Co’s research shows that strong cultures exhibit collaboration, agility, integrity, people-centricity, innovation, accountability and ambition. Companies are 3.7 times more likely to be business performance leaders if they have strong internal culture and inspire their employees. Bain & Co outline the three steps that leaders can take to ensure the organisation they work for acts in ways that are in keeping with its culture.

To read more the three steps go to Bain & Company

Coronavirus Is Putting Corporate Social Responsibility to the Test

Mark Kramer, Harvard Business Review, April 1, 2020

For millions of Americans, the new compensation package announced by the US Government will be too little too late, with payments expected to take three weeks to reach laid-off employees and small businesses. For much of America, this is a crisis that requires immediate action that only companies can take. Investors and bankers will pressure corporate leaders to conserve cash and reduce losses, but neither of these stakeholders will go hungry during this crisis. Harvard Business Review list things that companies can do to help their employees, small suppliers, health care providers, and communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To read more about what companies can do go to HBR

Demonstrating corporate purpose in the time of coronavirus

Bill Schaninger, Bruce Simpson, Han Zhang & Chris Zhu, McKinsey & Company, March 2020

Companies will have to define what they do in response to COVID-19 or they run the risk of being defined by it. As millions retreat into isolation, corporate leaders are confronted by a magnitude of issues caused by the coronavirus crisis. It also demands of them a moment to think: “What defines their company’s purpose – its core reason for being and its impact on the world?” In a crisis, many CEOs expect to focus on the bottom-line of their business, feeling constrained to make defensive moves. But in this crisis, stakeholders’ needs are already so critical that there is an opportunity for the business to make an indelible mark.

To read McKinsey’s principles that can guide executives to build a powerful corporate purpose during a crisis click the link

Applying past leadership lessons to the coronavirus pandemic

McKinsey & Company, March 2020

The career of a manager can rise and fall on their ability to rally their teams, project confidence, take decisive action, and communicate effectively during a crisis. McKinsey spoke to three senior advisors about their stories and experiences of leadership in moments of disruption and upheaval. Hugo Bague was group executive of organizational resources at Rio Tinto during the Ebola crisis in 2015-16; Jeff Cava was chief human-resources officer at Nike during two major economic crises, and at Wendy’s in 2003 during the SARS outbreak; and Manley Hopkinson, served as an officer in the Royal Navy during the first Gulf War. The three senior advisors answer questions on delegating responsibility, collaboration, leadership messaging, and managing stakeholder relationships during a global crisis.

To read the conversation go to McKinsey & Company

Managing the Flow of Ideas in a Pandemic

Alex Pentland, MIT Sloan, March 25, 2020

Most organizations are hierarchical or centralized, with all roads leading to the senior leaders at the top. During a pandemic such as COVID-19, standard organizational structures are a disaster in the making because senior people will be the hardest hit if they contract the virus. We’ve learned about the value of social distancing in reducing the spread of infection but given that ideas and decision-making flow primarily to and from the central (senior) people, the act of preventing the spread of coronavirus can pose risks to the essential work of an organisation. So how do you minimize the spread of illness while maintaining the flow of ideas necessary in a high-performance organization? MIT Sloan Management Review mention the options that exist: ‘maximize idea flow’; ‘lower the social cost’; ‘reward the flow’; ‘bolster connection’ and; ‘minimize direct contact’.

To read the options go to MIT Sloan Management Review

Are You Leading Through the Crisis … or Managing the Response?

Eric J. McNulty & Leonard Marcus, Harvard Business Review, March 25, 2020

As the coronavirus pandemic unfolds, it is useful to distinguish what ‘was’, ‘is’, and ‘will be’ during a crisis. The actions that executives and their decision-making teams make now, in the midst of the crisis, will significantly determine the fate of their organisation. Crises are filled with complexity and change; addressing the need of the present requires executives and crisis managers to lead and operate effectively. Leaders must also focus on what is likely to come next, and allocating resources to meet this. For nearly two decades, HBR have researched and observed public and private sector executives in high-stakes, high-pressure situations. They’ve learned that crises are most often over-managed and under-led. The most effective leaders energise organisations and inspire communities. The four leadership traps are explored in this article.

To read more about the four leadership traps go to Harvard Business Review

Coronavirus Emails From Companies May Not Be Calming to Customers

Chris Kornelis, The Wall Street Journal, March 23, 2020

Large and small businesses have been sending emails to reassure customers during the coronavirus pandemic of improved cleaning and social-distancing measures being used in their businesses. While some emails are warranted such as store closures, Soo Kim, assistant professor of marketing at Cornell University’s Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, said: “People don’t like to keep being reminded of information they don’t want to face.” Other commentators argue that by staying quiet during a global health outbreak, it presents its own risks as consumers now expect brands to take positions on political and social issues. For businesses today, finding the right balance is crucial. When Levis Strauss & Co. decided to close its stores, it sent a short email: “No one wants to get a bunch of emails from brands and stores saying what they are doing,” said Levi’s Chief Marketing Officer Jen Sey.

To view the full story go to The Wall Street Journal

How to Make Your Teams Strong in a Crisis

Phil Kleweno & Pete Gerend, Bain & Company, March 20, 2020

A well-functioning crisis management team is critical in ensuring the survival of the business through the coronavirus pandemic, and then thriving after it. In the past, executive teams have traditionally focused on planning and reviewing operations at a comprehensive level but now the best leadership groups also focus on the development of strategy, culture and talent. Bain & Company’s research found high-performing executive teams do four things consistently: “trust and empower, share common goals, make decisions in service of the common good; and foster a sense of belonging.” When C-suite leaders rate their teams highly across these four specific areas, their companies will outperform their competitors in: “revenue and profit growth as well as total shareholder return.” While COVID-19 is testing the current business model, there is reason to believe in and continue focusing on these principles.

To read more about the research go to Bain & Company

Here’s how social media can combat the coronavirus ‘infodemic’

Joan Donovan, MIT Technology Review, March 17, 2020

Social media is becoming the most important tool for families, friends and coworkers, as society grapples with the massive and growing coronavirus pandemic which is causing countries to shut down. As the world becomes more isolated, social media and the internet will play an even more crucial role in the quest for information related to the virus. The World Health Organisation (WHO) worries that in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, it will also be fighting an infodemic, which is defined as “an overabundance of information – some accurate and some not – that makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidelines when they need it.” Without clear strategies to prevent the spread of bad information, a lot can go wrong. While assessing the impact of misinformation is difficult, social media companies have learned that doing nothing is harmful to society. The first way to tackle the infodemic is to sort, rank and prioritize true and reliable information. The second is to enable government emergency alert systems across social media platforms, to ensure critical information is prioritized. This is the only way to keep rumors from dominating the headlines.

For the full story go to MIT Technology Review

Communication Is More Important Now Than Ever Before: 9 Ways To Reassure And Re-Engage Your Team

Tracy Brower, Forbes, March 16, 2020

The situation being faced due to coronavirus and COVID-19 is causing uncertainty and is changing rapidly which is placing more importance on the way a business leader communicates. As a leader, how should you communicate during the COVID-19 pandemic, in order to have the right communication strategy. Forbes provides nine tips for business leaders to consider.

To view the full story go to Forbes

8 Questions Employers Should Ask About Coronavirus

Jeff Levin-Scherz & Deana Allen, Harvard Business Review, March 15, 2020

The coronavirus outbreak is a wake-up call for companies to carefully review their internal policies, and procedures that protect employees, customers, and operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Harvard Business Review lists eight questions that companies should ask themselves as they deal with this crisis.

To view the eight questions that companies should ask go to HBR now

Crisis communication researcher shares five key principles that officials should use in coronavirus

Matthew Seeger, The Conversation, March 7, 2020

Crises are time-sensitive events that require quick decisions and actions to contain the issue, and telling people what to do during a crisis is critical to limiting and containing the harm it is causing. Matthew Seeger was part of the group of academics that helped the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) develop their crisis and emergency risk communication materials for public health outbreaks. The CDC program and other effective crisis communication principles, are explained in the article.

To read more about effective crisis communication principles go to The Conversation

COVID 19: Confidently navigate through the coronavirus crisis

PwC, March 2020

Pricewaterhouse Cooper (PwC) brings together a list of responses to improve the situation that has been affected by COVID-19. The list includes: creating a dedicated crisis team, verifying the facts, internal and external collaboration, and produce an inclusive stakeholder communications strategy.

For the full story go to PwC

The CIO’s moment: Leadership through the first wave of the coronavirus crisis

McKinsey Digital, March 2020

Chief Information Officers (CIOs) are playing a crucial role during the coronavirus outbreak as they grapple with the economic and social implications. McKinsey Digital spoke with more than 100 CIOs at global companies about what the function should focus their energies on in the next 60 to 90 days.

To view the ten actions CIOs should focus on go to McKinsey Digital

Leadership in a crisis: Responding to the coronavirus outbreak and future challenges

McKinsey & Company, March 2020

McKinsey & Company provides five leadership practices that can be used by executives to help respond effectively to the coronavirus pandemic.

To view the five leadership practices go to McKinsey & Company

Lead Your Business Through the Coronavirus Crisis

Martin Reeves, Nikolaus Lang and Philipp Carlsson-Szlezak, Harvard Business Review, February 27, 2020

Harvard Business Review details 12 lessons that is based on analysis and evaluation which can be used to respond to unfolding events, and communicating, and extracting and applying learnings to future crises.

For the full list go to the Harvard Business Review

With the COVID-19 coronavirus threatening to become a pandemic, HKS Senior Lecturer Juliette Kayyem says globalization has changed the nature of the crises we face — and that crisis managers need to respond.

Juliette Kayyem, Harvard Kennedy School, February 25, 2020

Harvard Kennedy School Senior Lecturer Juliette Kayyem – who played a crucial role in managing the US’ response to the H1N1 virus (swine flu) pandemic in 2009, speaks to PolicyCast about how crisis managers can respond to the global coronavirus pandemic. “The nature of the crises we’re facing on a global scale is that they are very hard to limit,” she says. Kayyem goes on to tell PolicyCast that there is already a well-established playbook for responding to a local, regional and global crisis but planning ahead for a “black swan” event is often complicated. In preparing for a world embattling a pandemic, Kayyem says measuring success sometimes means being happy that things could have been worse.

To listen to the podcast now go to Harvard Kennedy School

Summary of discussions: How corporations are managing COVID-19 crises and issues, Webinar March 19, 2020 ND

How corporations are managing COVID-19 crises and issues, Centre for Corporate Public Affairs Webinar March 19, 2020

A summary of the webinar discussion can be accessed through the following link
How ‘ordinary’ people became heroes during the bushfires ND
Fiona Smith and the Ethics Alliance, Ethics, March 2, 2020

The Australian bushfires which lasted for several months over the 2019-20 summer were an unforgettable reminder about what leadership in a crisis looks like, with “ordinary” people becoming the unforeseen heroes. Leadership can include “ordinary” people as many jumped into action, into their cars and boats as a means to protect their families and escape the ravaging bushfire that was quickly approaching them. These informal leaders took the initiative when the authorities were absent. NSW Transport Minister, Andrew Constance described the situation: ““There were community relief centres that were set up immediately after that fire event, without the involvement of government. That was what was heartening.” The Centre’s Executive Director, Wayne Burns lost his house at Lake Conjola to the fires and he reflected on the difference between authority and leadership during the crisis in his op-ed for the Sydney Morning Herald: “Leadership is an art exercised and practised deliberately. It is about influencing, encouraging, inspiring, and sometimes pushing and cajoling without being asked,” he writes. In speaking to The Ethics Centre, Burns says the government and emergency services were unable to step beyond their authority which created a power “vacuum”. Ordinary citizens put themselves into positions of informal leadership, “there is no personality type, there are no natural-born leaders – they don’t exist – people just decide to act,” Burns explained.

For the full story go to The Ethics Centre
Facebook Needs Regulation to Win User Trust, Zuckerberg Says ND
Natalia Drozdiak, Bloomberg, Tuesday February 17, 2020

Facebook is now pleading for governments to introduce new rules that will help it win back user trust after years of lobbying against any legislative efforts to impose new regulations. "If we don't create standards that people feel are legitimate, they won't trust institutions or technology," said Facebook's Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg in an op-ed in the Financial Times. Zuckerberg’s statement comes shortly after Facebook published a white paper that called for a “new type of regulator” to oversee regulatory enforcement of the internet. Silicon Valley firms have suffered user backlash over how web platforms profit from data, with Facebook’s user growth stagnating in its most important markets. Zuckerberg went on to say companies shouldn’t be in charge of making decision on competing social values, hoping new laws will provide the guidance the industry needs. “People need to feel that global technology platforms answer to someone,” said the Facebook CEO.

For the full story go to Bloomberg
UK aviation industry vows new zero carbon by 2050 ND
BBC News, Tuesday February 4, 2020

The United Kingdom’s aviation industry is pledging to reduce its net carbon emissions to zero by 2050. According to the industry group Sustainable Aviation, it said it will do this with cleaner engines, new fuels and planting trees. Under the plan, airlines can cut down pollution even as passenger numbers grow by an expected 70 per cent over the next 30 years. Sustainable Aviation says it can reduce its emissions of CO2 without restricting growth. British Airways, which is a member of the industry group, is investing in a project to make fuel from rubbish. “Biofuels will give us a greener alternative and we are attracted by that,” said Alex Cruz, chief executive of British Airways. But campaigners say the only way to cut airline pollution is by reducing air travel all together and cancelling the construction of new airports. “We need to restrict flying,” said Muna Suleiman, from Friends of the Earth.

For the full story go to the BBC
YouTube Says It Will Ban Misleading Election-Related Content ND
Davey Alba, The New York Times, Monday February 3, 2020

YouTube plans to remove misleading election-related content, laying out for the first time how the platform will handle such viral falsehoods with the November election around the corner. YouTube outlined its full plan on the day of the Iowa caucuses, where voters will select their preferred Democratic presidential candidate for the first time in 2020. In a blog post, YouTube said it would ban videos that gave users the wrong voting date or spread other false information during the election campaign. This move is the latest attempt by a large tech company to grapple with online disinformation, after Facebook said it would remove videos that were altered by artificial intelligence and Twitter has banned political ads entirely. Leslie Miller, YouTube’s vice president of government affairs and public affairs said: “Over the last few years, we’ve increased our efforts to make YouTube a more reliable source for news and information, as well as an open platform for healthy political discourse.”

For the full story go to The New York Times
CAA: Microsoft boss calls India's new citizenship law 'sad' ND
BBC News, Tuesday January 14, 2019

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has called India’s controversial new citizenship law “sad”, amid ongoing protests against the law that have become violent around India in recent weeks. Thousands of protesters have marched the streets of some of India’s biggest cities against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), criticising it for being discriminatory against Muslims as it only fast-tracks citizenship applications by non-Muslims from India’s neighbouring Muslim-majority nations. While speaking at a Microsoft event in New York, Mr Nadella said he envisages a different India: "I would love to see a Bangladeshi immigrant who comes to India and creates the next unicorn in India or becomes the next CEO of Infosys," he said. Following the event, Microsoft India issued a statement quoting Mr Nadella: “My hope is for an India where an immigrant can aspire to found a prosperous start-up or lead a multinational corporation benefitting Indian society and the economy at large.”

For the full story go to the BBC
Exxon wins New York climate change fight ND
BBC News, Wednesday 11th December 2019

ExxonMobil has won a court battle in New York, after being accused of misleading investors about the costs of addressing climate change. The state argued the oil giant used two figures to calculate the risks of climate change, and thus misrepresented the cost in public disclosures. Exxon said the two figures served two different purposes, and a New York judge said the evidence supported this claim. Exxon had called the suit politically motivated, and hailed the victory. “Today’s ruling affirms the position ExxonMobil has held throughout the New York Attorney General’s baseless investigation,” it said. “We provided our investors with accurate information on the risks of climate change.” New York Attorney General Letitia James said that despite her loss in court, the case had forced Exxon to “answer publicly” about its decision-making related to climate change. “We will continue to fight to ensure companies are held responsible for actions that undermine and jeopardize the financial health and safety of Americans across our country, and we will continue to fight to end climate change,” she said in a statement.

For the full story go to the BBC
Nike employees stage protest as company reopens Alberto Salazar building ND
The Guardian, Tuesday 10th December 2019

Hundreds of Nike employees staged a walkout in Beaverton, Oregon on Monday as the company reopened a building named after controversial athletics coach Alberto Salazar. Mr Salazar has been accused of humiliating and belittling female athletes, and last month admitted he had made “callous remarks” to athletes. “On occasion, I may have made comments that were callous or insensitive over the course of years of helping my athletes through hard training,” he told the Oregonian newspaper. “If any athlete was hurt by any comments that I have made, such an effect was entirely unintended, and I am sorry.” Despite the controversy surrounding Mr Salazar, Nike kept the coach’s name on the building during its renovation, and his image still features strongly around the facility. According to the Willamette Week, around 400 Nike employees marched through the Nike campus on Monday with signs reading “Just Do Better”, “Nike is a woman” and “We believe Mary”.

For the full story visit the Guardian
Green lawyers launch complaint over BP ad campaign amid ‘climate emergency’ ND
Emily Beament, Belfast Telegraph UK, Tuesday December 3, 2019

Environmental legal charity ClimateEarth has triggered an official complaint against BP, claiming the company is misleading consumers about its low carbon credentials in advertising campaigns in the UK and elsewhere. The lawyers behind the complaint also said fossil fuel adverts should be banned unless they carry a planetary and person health warning, similar to those forced on the tobacco industry. “BP is spending millions on an advertising campaign to give the impression that it’s racing to renewables, that its gas is cleaner, and that it is part of the climate solution,” said Sophie Marjanac, ClientEarth climate lawyer. “While BP’s advertising focuses on clean energy, in reality, more than 96 per cent of the company’s annual capital expenditure is on oil and gas.” In a statement, a BP spokesperson said: “We have not seen this complaint, but we strongly reject the suggestion that our advertising is misleading. BP has clearly said that the world is on an unsustainable path and must do more to reduce emissions. We support a rapid transition of the world’s energy system.”

For the full story click here
Step up climate action or face catastrophe, says UN report ND
Barbara Bibbo, Al Jazeera, Wednesday 27th November 2019

Countries must cut their greenhouse gas emissions well beyond current pledges in order to prevent catastrophic climate change, according to a United Nations report released on Tuesday. The annual Emissions Gap Report points out the United States and China, Russia and the European Union particularly as doing too little to tackle the climate crisis. "Emissions need to go down by 55 percent by 2030," said the report's colead author, John Christensen. "There is no way we are going to make it if we don't step up action as of next year with ambitious plans." The report states that even if all Paris commitments were implemented, temperatures would likely rise up to 3.2C this century, which would bring with destructive climate change. "Our collective failure to act early and hard on climate change means we now must deliver deep cuts to emissions, over 7 percent each year," said Inger Andersen, the UN Environment Program's executive director.

To read more click here
Activists Build a Grass-Roots Alliance Against Amazon ND
David Streitfeld, The New York Times, Tuesday November 26, 2019

Athena, the grass-roots alliance formed to influence and rein in Amazon’s power, is now looking to unify the resistance movement against the tech giant. The coalition comprises three dozen grass-roots groups that are involved in issues like digital surveillance, antitrust and working conditions in warehouses. Pressure on Amazon’s practices have been mounting after a report from the Economic Roundtable – a non-profit research group from South California – investigated the impact of Amazon’s warehouses on communities. It calculated that Amazon trucks last year created $642 million in “uncompensated public costs” for noise, road wear, accidents and harmful emissions. Daniel Flaming, co-author of the Economic Roundtable report said: “Our conclusion is that it’s time for Amazon to come of age and pay its own way.” Previous grass-roots efforts led by labour and immigrant organisations to restrain Amazon’s power are now joining under Athena. “We’re learning from what makes Amazon back down and looking to replicate that as much as possible with as many people as possible,” said Dania Rajendra, Athena’s director.

For the full story click here
Easyjet to offset carbon emissions from all its flights ND
Gwyn Topham, The Guardian, Wednesday 20th November 2019

Easyjet announced on Tuesday it would offset carbon emissions from all its flights, becoming the world’s first major airline to operate net-zero carbon flights across its network. The British budget airline said its plan would cost about £25m in the next financial year through schemes to plant trees or avoid the release of additional carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. “We recognise that offsetting is only an interim measure, but we want to take action on our carbon emissions now,” CEO Johan Lundgren said. “Aviation will have to reinvent himself as quickly as it can.” Pressure has been mounting for some time for the aviation industry to address its environmental impact, and EasyJet’s decision is a big step in maintaining the industry’s social license by one of the industry’s major players. “Customers increasingly expect companies to do something about it and it is fundamentally the right thing to do,” said Mr Lundgren.

To read the full story click here
TikTok’s Chief Is on a Mission to Prove It’s Not A Menace ND
Raymond Zhong, The New York Times, Monday 18th November 2019

In recent months, TikTok has emerged as the refreshing weirdo upstart of the American social media landscape, reconfiguring the culture in its joyful, strange wake. But to some in the US government, it is a menace – namely because of the nationality of its owner, a seven-year-old Chinese social media company called ByteDance. Some in the government fear TikTok is exposing America’s youth to Communist Party indoctrination and smuggling their data to Beijing’s servers. This is what brought the company’s head, Alex Zhu, to Manhattan last week. In an interview – his first since taking over at TikTok this year – Mr Zhu denied key accusations levelled at the company: that TikTok censors videos that displease China, or that it sends data to China. He said all data is stored in Virginia, with a backup server in Singapore. But China is a murky place for companies, and many in Washington remain deeply suspicious of Chinese tech companies to a degree that can feel like paranoia, and that will continue to be an issue for companies like TikTok.

To read the full in-depth report click here
'Responsible thing to do': Qantas pledges zero net emissions by 2050 ND
Patrick Hatch, The Sydney Morning Herald, Monday November 11, 2019

Qantas has pledged to cut its net carbon emissions to zero by 2050, making it the second airline group in the world to make this commitment. Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said the goals of the airline group – which includes budget carrier Jetstar – will cap net emissions at their current levels of around 12 million tonnes from 2020. Mr Joyce said airlines around the world have a responsibility to cut emissions as nine European Union (EU) states called for an aviation tax to make airlines pay a “fair price” for the pollution they produce, in a letter sent to the EU’s executive last week. Alternative jet fuel can cut emissions by as much as 80 per cent but currently it only makes up 0.01 per cent of global industry fuel use. Qantas has said it will spend $50 million on research and investment over the next 10 years to help develop a biofuel industry in Australia. "It won’t be a straight line to zero simply because the progress on biofuel and other technology won’t be linear, either. But there will be clear progress," Mr Joyce said.

For the full story click here
Google sued by the ACCC over alleged misuse of personal data ND
Stephen Letts, ABC News, Tuesday 29th October 2019

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has become the first regulator in the world to take on Google, as it sues the company over allegations it has been misleading consumers about the personal location data it collects, keeps and uses. In documents lodged with the court, the ACCC said Google misled consumers when it made on-screen representations about the location data it collected, and about continuing to collect and use personal data against consumers’ wishes. As such, the ACCC said, Google breached Australian law. "We are taking court action against Google because we allege that as a result of these on-screen representations Google has collected, kept and used highly sensitive and valuable personal information about consumers' location without them making an informed choice," ACCC chair Rod Sims said.

For the full story click here
Dissent Erupts at Facebook Over Hands-Off Stance on Political Ads ND
Mike Isaac, The New York Times, Monday 28th October 2019

In a sign of growing internal resistance at the world’s biggest social network, a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, signed by more than 250 employees, decrying the company’s position on political advertising, has been publicly visible on Facebook Workplace for the past two weeks. Employees are unhappy about Mr Zuckerberg’s decision to let politicians post any claims they want – even if they are false – in ads on the site. Facebook has already been under increased scrutiny from US lawmakers in recent weeks, but the employee actions show that even employees are divided over Facebook’s policy. “Facebook’s culture is built on openness, so we appreciate our employees voicing their thoughts on this important topic,” Facebook spokeswoman Bertie Thomson said in a statement. “We remain committed to not censoring political speech, and will continue exploring additional steps we can take to bring increased transparency to political ads.”

For the full story click here
Exxon accused of misleading investors on climate change ND
BBC News, Tuesday October 22, 2019

American oil giant Exxon is set to face an unprecedented climate change lawsuit in New York this week after years of investigations into the company’s corporate practices. The state of New York is bringing forward a lawsuit in accusing the company of misleading investors about the potential costs of climate change regulation on its business. In a statement the state of New York said: "by representing that it was applying higher projected carbon costs than it was actually using, ExxonMobil made its assets appear significantly more secure than they really were, which had a material impact on its share price." Exxon does not dispute this claim but argues the calculations were "proprietary" and investors were not misled. "Reasonable investors who reviewed ExxonMobil's disclosures understood that climate risks factored into ExxonMobil's decision-making, which is all that could have mattered to them," the company said. Analysts said this case demonstrates the kind of methods governments are now using to keep firms accountable on prominent issues such as climate change.

For the full story click here
BHP boss Andrew Mackenzie most outspoken CEO on social issues, analysis finds ND
Dominic Powell, The Sydney Morning Herald, Monday October 21, 2019

BHP CEO Andrew Mackenzie’s stance on climate change makes him the most vocal corporate leader in Australia, according to media researcher Streem. The research – tracked from October 2018 to September 2019 – has Mr Mackenzie as the most quoted CEO in the media with 156 mentions with 112 of these relating to climate change. Some of the issues analysed included climate change, domestic violence, equality, sexual harassment, human rights, mental health, Indigenous issues and LGBTIQA issues. Mr Mackenzie has been an advocate of climate action for some time now. Just recently, BHP announced it would devote $500 million towards reducing its own emissions and customers' emissions. He also urged the government to put a price on carbon. Following him on the list of vocal CEOs was Qantas’ Alan Joyce and Woodside’s Pete Coleman. Climate change was also an issue frequently raised by Mr Joyce, while mentions of LGBTIQA issues ranked highest. In a speech to the National Press Club last month, Mr Joyce said companies refraining from weighing in on social issues was 'bad for democracy'. The survey comes as Prime Minister Scott Morrison told chief executives not to be "distracted" by issues such as climate change.

For the full story click here
Bank of England boss says global finance is funding 4C temperature rise ND
Richard Partington, The Guardian, Wednesday October 16, 2019

The governor of the Bank of England has delivered a stark warning to international capital markets over the financing of carbon-producing projects that will lift global temperatures by more than four degrees this century. Mark Carney, the governor of Britain’s central bank suggested companies had secured financing from investors in the market worth around US $85 trillion for stocks and US $100 trillion for bonds that will raise the planet’s temperature well above the two degrees agreed on in the Paris Agreement. Governor Carney’s intervention comes after some investment companies have analysed the effects of carbon-linked assets in their portfolios. The risks associated with this dramatic rise in temperatures include a 9-metre rise in sea levels which will affect up to 760 million people. “The contribution of manufacturing or an industrial company in terms of lowering their carbon footprint over the next decade, a big reduction in that, can be as significant if not more significant than further development in the short term on renewables,” Governor Carney said to MPs on the Commons Treasury committee.

For the full story click here
Hong Kong Protesters Are Targeting Starbucks. Apple Could Be Next. ND
Edward Wong, The New York Times, Tuesday October 15, 2019

Pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong are now singling out companies that are sympathetic with the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing. Information is being circulated on apps and websites used by protesters to identify companies that are soft on China. Sometimes the stories of the companies are simply based on rumours or even comments made by executives and their families. Businesses in Hong Kong are being increasingly caught between the two sides, as they often try to avoid offending both China and Hong Kong activists. “All corporations here are walking on eggshells when it comes to what they say, whether it’s about Hong Kong or about the mainland,” said David Webb, a shareholder activist in Hong Kong. At a Starbucks branch in Hong Kong, protesters used hammers and a fire extinguisher to smash glass shelves, while others threw plates and trays on the ground. Activists have also called for protests at Apple stores after the company removed an app that showed the location of police officers. It is unclear whether the backlash against global brands will result in sustained financial damage.

For the full story click here
Aerospace industry seeks Brexit reassurance ND
Faisal Islam, BBC, Friday October 11, 2019

As negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Union draw to a head, the UK’s leading aerospace industry body has sought reassurance from the British government over its commitment to EU regulatory institutions after Brexit. The peak industry body is growing increasingly worried about regulatory alignment across Europe and the ability to bring products to market after a Brexit deal is made. They have asked that the UK continue to be a member of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), after previous negotiations between the May Government and the EU made such assurances. The British government is facing criticism from key manufacturers amid growing industrial concern that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s negotiators have dropped existing commitments to participate in vital EU regulatory institutions. The letter sent to Cabinet Ministers said the failure to continue its membership with EASA will result in "huge new costs and disruptions to many of our member companies." A government spokesperson said: "Where necessary, the government will pursue additional agreements to cover areas outside traditional FTAs - for example, on aviation and civil nuclear cooperation."

For the full story click here
BHP adds ‘social value’ into its business planning ND
Neil Hume, Financial Times, Wednesday 9th October, 2019

Ahead of an investor briefing in London, BHP has announced that its Anglo-Australasian group will add a social value assessment to the business plans of all its assets. BHP’s Chief External Affairs Officer, Geoff Healy said: “In order to deliver financial value, you have to deliver social value… This is just good, sensible business.” The announcement comes after America’s Business Roundtable dropped the “shareholder first” mantra for the first time in over fifty years last month. The Roundtable, which represents 181 of the world’s largest companies agreed to consider communities, the environment and employees alongside profit. The need to maintain a social license is crucial in the mining industry as it navigates changing community expectations. BHP’s CEO Andrew McKenzie’s tenure has been marked by a more aggressive approach on the environment. In July, Mr. McKenzie said the company would set public goals to reduce greenhouse emissions.

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NBA boss Adam Silver defends freedom of speech amid China row ND
BBC News, Wednesday 9th October 2019

The National Basketball Association (NBA) in the United States has defended free speech after the General Manager of the Houston Rockets, Daryl Morey tweeted his support for the Hong Kong protests. The tweet caused an uproar among basketball fans in China, while his attempt to backtrack upset American fans who support the protests. NBA boss Adam Silver issued a statement saying: “The NBA will not put itself in a position of regulating what players, employees and team owners say or will not say on these issues." Mr Silver told reporters later he’d be travelling to Shanghai to "find mutual respect" with officials. Many have called the NBA’s move bold, given the financial clout of China. Mark Dreyer, an expert on China’s sport industry tweeted: "The vast majority of foreign companies apologize profusely at the first sign of discontent from Chinese consumers, which makes the NBA's response all the more remarkable."

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Nissan’s Crisis Goes Much Deeper Than Carlos Ghosn ND
Noriko Hayashi, The New York Times, Tuesday 8th October 2019

An external law firm investigating Nissan over its former chairman Carlos Ghosn’s compensation has now found Hari Nada - the insider behind the chairman’s departure - had improperly overpaid himself. It was found Mr. Nada received about $280,000 in “unjust enrichment” during 2017. A senior Nissan compliance officer planned to share the findings with the company’s board of directors, but no information was ever shared. In the weeks after the findings, Nissan sidelined two in-house counsels after they warned the company Mr. Nada was still influencing inquiries into the company’s problems. The findings now raise questions about the credibility of witnesses against Mr. Ghosn, who has been charged of trying to conceal his pay level from regulators in Japan. The future of the Japanese manufacturer remains uncertain, with some members of its own board being left in the dark.

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